>> there's a few rules of the road for the events if you have not been to one before. the speaker will speak, and if you have questions, we have a microphone riergt here. please say your name as a curtesy, ask your question, she'll answer questions for a half hour or so, and after that, she'll sign books, come here, and she'll sign going in this direction. we ask two favors. one, fold up the chairs at the end and stack them on the book shelf to make life easier for the staff, and, also, if you have a cell phone on now, if you could silence it, that would be much appreciated. introducing our author and her book, "the whole damn deal,"
i'll startly saying not many people have famous great uncles and fewer still decide to write about them. she did just that, chronicling the life -- i'm not sure how i should describe bob strauss. there was a lot of things he didn't like to be called. not a lobbyist, a fixer, or influx peddler, but inhe'd agree and take pleasure in being identified tonight as one the truly great iconic figures of american politics in the last chunk of the 20th century. many of you may know bob strauss. worked for him, against him, or do know him have been con julyed by him or insulted by him, a complement of sorts, and you know as my friend, sarah, told
me, you have your own stories of the pots he stirred throughout his career. whether or not you ever met him, know him in any capacity at all, you'll get to know him very well or better by reading this wonderful book, "the whole damn deal," and through research and interviews with key players including the protagonist and along with the hard work necessary to write a good book, katherine captured the man in his time and at least in my case, reminded readers how much our political life and discourse changed since bob's hay day. those of us who lived through that era and now say, you know, isn't there something missing these days? maybe a lot. i'm really delighted to welcome a first time author. she'll tell us the story of how the biography came to be and more about her famous great
uncle. thank you so much for being here. please join me in welcoming katherine. [applause] >> thank you very much. everyone at politics and prose and c-span. thank you for being here. i know it's a miserable night out. i appreciate it. how do you write a look about your famous great uncle and remain in the family and also write an accurate book, and the way i tried to get around that was doing a lot of research, especially at presidential libraries and national archives because the uncle bob that i knew growing up is very different than the man in the book, and people ask me all the time what surprised you most about bob? what did you learn that was so surprising? i kept trying to think of really great smart answer, and i never came up with one, but what
surprised me most was how much power he had. he was such a powerful player in washington, and when i was a child in his hay day, i never really got to see that, and when he's with his family, he's a different perp. when he's with the grandchildren, it's about his grandchildren. he's not the big personality. one of his grandchildren didn't know he won the president reel medal of freedom until it was on the shelf and they asked what it was. he was a little more modest with his own family. i did spend my 7th bred -- 7th birthday in the residence in moscow when george hw bush appointed bob as ambassador of the soviet union. he landed there in the middle when they were rallying people, and he went over there and he came back at christmas time as
ambassador to russia. he said i think i'm the only fellow fired as ambassador, you know, from 12 countries. [laughter] that was the -- the uncle bob -- i i didn't know he flew into a cue, but got me a pink cake for my birthday. i took a book class with sam friedman, and i think that where bob wielded the most power and where he made one of the biggest marks on history was in keeping the democratic party together from 1972-1976 when the party was really torn apart starting in 1978 after the debackble of the 1968 election and assassinations of kennedy and marlin luther king, and the party was splitting over a number of issue, and he came in and really held the party
together, mirs as treasurer of the democratic national committee and then as chairman of the democratic national committee, and the democratic party then looks like the republican party today in that it's very fractured and an extreme wing, starting in, you know, 72. the democrats and the republicans have a tea party. they are still there, and he came in at a key time and researchedded his time at the dnc first. the first chapter that he wrote. started in the middle, and his election to the chairmanship, and the national archives have all the transscripts from the dnc meetings, executive committee meetings, and these are pretty dull reading material.
[laughter] bob was known around town and around the country because he was a household name when he was chairman which you can want say of the current rnc chairman. i was laughing at the national archives. they frown upon everything in the inarm archives, but especially upon laughing. [laughter] bob was hilarious. he went about the job of keeping the party together with a sense of humor, and during this -- it was a very controversial election when he became a chairman. this was after mcgovern lost in 19 # 7 # #. nixon won every single state other than massachusetts and the district of columbia so you can imagine, nixon did that well, how bad of a candidate mcgovern turned # out to be through no fault of his own and
this what was bob was up against. i found phone calls nixon made with the staff, and chuck colson, a pretty familiar name, was calling the president, really tracking this dnc chairmanship election surprisingly closely, and nay were talking about george mitchell, who became the senator from maine, you know, a powerful senator from maine, but he was in his 30s, couldn't compete with bob, and chuck said about mitchell, he's from maine, he's smart, but he's not a strauss guy who is a powerful, strong, brilliant individual. when i heard that said, i said, what did bob pay him to say that? [laughter] then he said, he's the most effective guy they could get, but in view of the mcgoverns, it would blow up on them and win
either way. obviously, the nixon folks did not win because of the watergate scandal that broke apart, and he ended up out of office. there was no purpling of the mcgoverns, and that's where bob was skilledded. he was coming from a more conservative place, an lbj democrat from texas. if you don't embrace them exactly, he tried to appease the mcgoverns making sure they had what they needed and make sure labor had what they needed and the black and women's caucus who were trying at the time trying to grow and expand. he really was not just a compromiser, but a very skilled negotiator making sure that everyone had a little bit of what they needed. that was because he always said that his goal for 1976 was to be able to deliver a party to a candidate. he said i'm not going to deliver
a candidate to the party, but a party to the candidate. they are trying to deliver a candidate to a divided party. he didn't know who the nominee would be in 1976. he certainly did not think it was going to be carter. nobody thought it was going to be jimmy carter. he preferred scoop jackson or humphries, anyone over carter. he looked past that as chairman of the dnc and really saw it as his mission to keep his elector electorat together. that was a criticism throughout his career that he was not an ideolog, but he just wanted a democrat in the white house, and he didn't care who it was. it was carter. they turned into good friends. carter, who is not known for
having a sense of humor, really grew to love bob, and i interviewedded him, and he said they grew as close as two brothers, and bob could make him laugh. you know, bob would always insult him when he introduced him because that's how you knew bob loved you, and he'd make follow-up of him for the participants being too short, a lot of ways he made fun of carter, and he used all of them. carter appointed him special trade representative. fdr, at the time, and currently, that's the office of the united states trade representative. they changed the title and ron kirk is usdr. he -- bob came in in a very weak cabinet position at the post. he used his underdog status to his advantage, and they became
known as one who reached across the aisle, friends with republicans and democrats. started the career in washington as treasurer and chairman, that was surprising, but i think what helped him was that the democratic party itself was split he was working across an aisle already. any party that has george wallace who, you know, ran for president many times, white supremist, and anyone who can do that can work across the aisle in congress for republicans and democrats, and carter saw that and what he had done as chairman of the dnc, and he thought he could do that abroad. the tokyo round of the trade negotiations were stalled for soim time. they started in 1973, and there were over 100 countries involved, and so it seemed like a daunting task to take on.
bob was willing to do it. he didn't have a large bureaucracy to work with. he was not like the department of commerce with people under him, but it was a small staff, and that was a good thing. he accumulated power through the friendships in congress with democrats and with republicans and i think it's special pert innocent now with the recent passage of the three bills last night, the trade bills with colombia, panama, and south korea. everyone's making such a big deal about, you know, how they got them through quickly and how bipartisan they were, and it's true, but this bill was also devicive, and it was not just three countries bob was negotiating with, but 102. this was one of the really large rounds of trade, and so i wanted to read a little bit about how
bob negotiated through congress. at the part in the -- the bill end up passing 305 #-7 # # in the house and 90-4 in the senate, and after the house vote came in, bob said to stu, a domestic policy adviser. stu, who are the seven sons of bitches who voted against my bill? [laughter] he got the victory. there was a controversial bill, a devicive bill, and he still got the 395-7 vote and 90-4 vote. at this point, they are trying to sell it in congress, and this was a point at which the kennedy round had really been unsuccessful because the congress didn't pass legislation needed to enagent -- enact it.
there was not a trade agreement until april. they thought it foolish to wait for the final product to sell it. once the white house presented the bill to congress, it would be on a special fast track legislative path introduced by the trade act of 1974 kick fating once the bill was presented to congress, no deal to be made, no cuts, no filibusters permitted. the team included congressional staff in coming up with a legislation. he wanted there to be no surprises. i'm not a damn fool strauss said in a congressional hearing before the ways and means committee in 1978. i know balance when i see it and political reality. i will not have a baby and drop it on your doorstep and say take care of it. we'll work with the committee closely. in a move not often seen, he invited staff into highly sensitive foreign negotiations for them to have as much at risk in the outcome as he did.
he worked the hill like crazy it was later said. people loved him there. republicans and democrats. bob just had a wonderful credibility with the hill. they knew him. he was a successful chairman of the party. he earned his reputation for being a man to work across the aisle. he reflected on the newfound bipartisanship when charles commented on how they had, so far, achieved bipartisan cooperation in the trade legislation. we truly have, strauss said. what impressed me is i came from a partisan position, chairman of the democratic party, and don't tell me you'll move to the other side. he said, no, but it's comforting snuggling with the republican friends. here. it's served me well. i think that's one of the main differences in politics then and politics today, the cheap shots along the way he was not taking. with congress, as with the
europeans, he found out what the other fellow had to have, the choking point. as he said before the passage of the bill, the things earned on the hill are not free, you know. you earn them. the reason i get things done is not because of my personality, but i worry about their business. a personality carries you so far. you have to deliver. if you can show the average person in congress how to vote right, no way in the world an average member of the house and senate can know what the issue is all the time they are so torn apart. they'll go with you. although, he made is easy to go with him, he had criticism from protectionists who thought he swindled congress to support him and traders who made side deals to protect american industries. sacrificing bourbon to protect tobacco so his old friend would not lose a senate seat in kentucky, a state that produced both. a protectionist not point of
stewing them wrote in the book trade wars against america, seldom has the congress been meze moo rised by as many empty promises as fired in the spring of that eerie year. it's poll to look at the carnage and wonder how congress was gullible of the he called the trade act like all its preed predecessors since the roosevelt sponsored law of 1934 a fraud. his promises were not empty, though, which met free traders could skewer him too. he went to the farmers, steel people, cut deals with them, side deals, some of which i didn't learn about until later it was said. after he left fdr to be the middle east negotiator. i joked the groups would call for the commitment bob gave them.
[laughter] free trade advocates and critics griped for years, but they were obviously satisfied because of the way he finessed the bill, it passed almost unanimously. on july 11th, 1979, they passed the trade bill, and on july 2rd, senate passed it. carter noted in his diary on july 23rd, 1979, he was disappointed of the coverage of the trade bill which he considered to be a great achieve. he wrote the editor the following note. other than a non-headline notice in an on-capitol hill column, the post did not mention the passage of the trade agent. it was different in 1962. they deserve recognition. signed a reader, jimmy carter. [laughter] in 1986, bradlery a friend of
strauss forwarded the note saying i put in another million dollars of washington post stock, and i found this cluttering this up. what did you pay him to write me this? all kidding aside, he was disappointed too, and said when i got up the next morning, i couldn't wait to read the story. he said i could have cared less about the staff and said this in the presence of the staff. he said there was not a damn line in there. i almost had a stroke. [laughter] for his work on the tokyo round on january 16th, 1981, and this was after he 4 run carter's failed re-election bid so he always -- carter always joked that he had two ambitions in life. one was to be president and one was to retire to plains and that bob helped him achieve both. [laughter] january 16th, 1918, after bob
lost carter's election or he lost it for himself, he presented strau, with the presidential medal of freedom reading at the time this: for americans, politics is the art of the possible. thrush intelligence, ability, and the many friendships earned during his service as leader of the party and his nation, robert s. strauss refined the art into science with diligence, persistence, and wit, he concluded the trade negotiations at a time many believed they were doomed for failure. strengthening the system of trade linking our interdependent world, he earned our gratitude and respect. that was the end of bob in trade. he knew nothing of trade going into it. he joked he didn't have substance to him, but when he was in the position, he got up at the crack of dawn and had his staff make him, you know, flash cards with all the ac names on
them, and he was a quit study. he always joked i'm a quick study, but not very deep. he obviously got dopily into a lot of the issues, and from there, he went on to negotiating or helping to not negotiate peace in the middle east, and, yet, another job where he had no background and under the republican administration, am pointed him to be ambassador of russia, and at the time, i'm no russian expert, but i never knew anything about any job i had until i got there. that's something else you can't say today and have the appointment go through. [laughter] you know, it was a different time in the press and congress. there was less vie -- and it's funny to read the
hearing for his nominations. i would do a control f to find the word "laughter," and you could then see all the jokes made during the nomination hearings. you know, he had congress in his pocket, and that doesn't happen anymore, probably for the best. [laughter] i'd be happy to take questions now. [applause] >> if you have a question, come to the microphone here to be part of the regard o recording that's going on. that would be great. if nobody does, i have a lot of questions. i hope somebody else does. >> where is he now? >> he is going to be 93 next week, and he's still living at the watergate where he's been living since the 70s. he still has lunch with the front page, the restaurant in
the robert s. strauss building which is the law firm he founded. >> thank you. it's nice to see young people so engaged actually. i'm larry cheko, and i appreciate politics and prose for giving us this platform. it's a wonderful opportunity. not so much a question, but it really -- what you said before was true. there's few people who can cross the aisles anymore, and i guess as an american citizen, i have kind of gotten very depressed because i'm tired of being governed by people who lack more common sense than i do. [laughter] i set the bar pretty low. [laughter] i would like, you know, to know what kind of of a relationship -- i was hoping you'd talk about that -- what kind of a relationship you have with bob, and how did it grow? he's a great uncle, not even
your first uncle. how much time were you able to spend with him? how much did he contribute to the book? does he like the book? thank you. >> sure, thank you, thank you for coming out, and in the rain. he is my great uncle. my mother is his first niece, and she's in the audience. i grew up very close to my grandfather, grew up in dallas, and my grandfather lived in dallas, bob's brother. saw bob on most thanks givings, kris nayses -- thanksgivings and christmases and passovers. he went to the racetrack, and he's still chairman of the board in 1993, and he and aunt hellen, his wife, gave us pies, the chocolate pop sickles.
we never had those otherwise. uncle bob was the magic supplier. that was all i knew of him then. when i started on the book project, i lived in washington for a few months, and i saw him then, and we had a lot of discussions, but he knew his memory is not what it used to be, and he was worried about that and getting me bad information. he gave my access to over 70 interviews he had done with a ghost writer he hiredded back in the 1990s when he was trying to write his memoirs. they -- for the most part, they were written, but it was an unsuccessful project for many reasons, and one is that's it hard to capture bob's voice. i never would have try to undertake an autobiography or ghost write his memoirs. he's funny. it's difficult to capture that if you are not him.
also, he had such a positive attitude all throughout his life, and that's what helped him remain so successful. even when he was trade representative and cob -- constantly criticized. he wake up in the morning, lick the wounds in the shower, and get on with his day. that meant he didn't remember the failures in the life or the difficulty in the life or tension in his life. so i did need to, you know, go beyond and go into the archives. i really had the best time at the carter library. there's a chapter in the book that looks at bob as carter's ambassador to the middle east peace process. carter sent him there to hold it. carter thought that he, carter, and the secretary of state were spending too much time on the
peace process. he wanted to send a -- personal representative there he could trust to see through the process. this was a very tepees time in bob's life. he did not get along well with the national security adviser or the secretary of state because vance wanted bob under him in the state 2k*79, and bob wanted to report directly to the president. bob said later vance was right and he was wrong, and, of course, he should have reported to the secretary of state, but he got his way with the president. what i learned about bob was not from him. i learned about his warmth and personality and good sense of humor, but as far as on a day-to-day basis and dialogue from the situation room, that was dialogue from the situation room. it's basketball released. it's at the carter library. you can research it, and so a lot of what i have in here did
not come from my talking with him, but from the archives and talking with other people. >> talk about, like he said, about editorials -- >> oh, yes. i would not give him editorial control over the book because i just came out of journalism school, wide-eyed, and i said, no, you can't read the script before we print it. he didn't. he and his long time assistant of 40 years did read an early copy, mostly for major errors, but i also fact checked the book on the phone with verah. that was the way i made sure that it -- i didn't have any major problems in here, but he didn't have editorial control. i'm still invited to christmas.
[laughter] >> did he think it was a fair portrayal? he read it in >> i think so. i called him right after he read it. i was nervous. he said i don't just like it, i love it. that's sort of the kind of thing he would say. i'm sure there's parts he doesn't love. he was very sensitive about being called a lobbyist, something that was mentioned, and there's some -- i address that in the book, and he was sensitive about it for good reasons because he did do a lot of kind of work that the lobbyist might do, but there were different standards at the time and he never did anything that i know of illegal that would require him to recommendation steer as a lobbyist, but i don't think that would have been in his own book. >> who were the earliest strauss
to get into politics? was the state politics first? i suppose so, but what was his relationship with johnson, and do you remember any exchanges he had person to person with johnson about the war, about the vietnam war? >> he was the first strauss to get in politics, and he mainly got in through john connely who would become governor of texas, and john, in 1959, ran into bob on the street in dallas. he was a lawyer in f. worth at the time, and bob was a lawyer the the time. i'm getting a group of fellows together to go to washington to talk about the johnson's presidential nomination. do you want to come along? that was sort of, you know, the beginning of the end. he went along and helped support the johnson nomination effort in
1960, which we know failed. kennedy won that year, but after that, because conley was a protege, strauss was one step closer. in the day in dallas when kennedy was assassinated, he was a host of the lunch chon, you know, downtown, and, you know, he was very involved in all of that. one thing, and i wrote it in the book that it's right for people to doubt my objectivity. i would definitely doubt it, but i try to be skeptical. when bob told me stories about being in the hospital, you know, comforting nellie after her husband was shot, because john connely was shot also. the reason it's in the book is because at the johnson library, they have the john collection,
and there's a record of everyone who visited him in the hospital, and bob was there on the day, the day of the shooting, and so he was extremely close and through john became close to johnson. johnson did give him some advice which was not to be treasurer of the democratic party because he said just dealing with all of that money gets you in trouble. you shouldn't do that. bob did it any way. he called him again on the ranch when he was running for chairman of the party, and he advised him not to run for chairman of the party either. they were friendly, but the relationship was mostly through john. >> and the vietnam war? >> oh, yes. he supported the president first and foremost, and he always thought that partisanship ends at the water's edge. happened his party was in power,
johnson, but he supported johnson on vietnam. he later said that he regreeted that, that he wished when johnson asked him about vietnam he would have told him that he was against the war. publicly, bob was doing his best at the 68 convention to get all of the votes that humphries needed to support the vietnam plank, and so he was always behind his candidate first and foremost, and he real put his own political public policy ideals second. johnson intimidated him. that was another reason. he used to say that he would never let -- after he didn't tell johnson the truth about vietnam, he decided to tell the president the truth if asked. it turns out that almost every president after johnson did ask him for advice at one time or
another, and incoming reagan even though he was in the carter administration and run carter's campaign against rage p. nancy reagan arranged for strauss and the former secretary of state, republican bill rogers, to sneak into the white house one evening. they went in through the treasury building, the underground tunnel. bob never wasn't through the tunnel before. he said it looked like there's a fallout shelters, beds on the walls, and he couldn't believe he was there. he went to the residents of the white house and advised the president on what to do about thee iran contra scandal, and he advised him to get rid of chief of staff, don reegan, and bring in howard baker, someone who could really have a lot of credibility in congress with both sides of the aisle, had a
lot of relationships with the press, and nancy reagan took this to heart, and at the time, strauss didn't think the president was listening to him because the president disagreed saying i would never do that or fire him. that's what he said to hellen when he got home, and he got a call from nancy reagan saying i don't suppose there's any way you want to help us here in the white house, would you? he declined. he said it would not be a good idea for anyone involved, but several weeks later, don was fired and howard baker was brought in as chief of staff. in his memoir, he said why bob strauss who had everything to gain from, you know, reagan falling out of grace should be called in, you know, why bob? i'll never know. it's true bob was a democrat and partisan, but anyone in
washington who knew bob knew that he was a straight shooter, than he was going to tell reagan the truth and give reagan the best advice he could. he lovedded being called to serve by his president. you never turn down a president. that's how he ended up 70 years of age in a communism country in moscow. he turned down bush for that ambassadorship, and then, you know, he decided you can't turn down a president. he trieded to do his best for republicans and democrats. >> the great jim wright line about -- jim wright -- >> in the 80s. said i don't know who the next president's going to be, but i can tell you who the best friend will be. bob strauss. [laughter] bob had a reputation for getting close to the president, whoever he was. one of my favorite stories, and i got it just as i was finishing the book, and i was so excited.
i interviewed tom bro caw, and he told me a story about being in ohio for the presidential debate, this long anticipated 1980 debate between carter and reagan, and bob was excluded from the debate preps. brokaw knew he would be free for lunch. they said they would have one martini a piece, then split one. they split one more. [laughter] later in the amp, you know, they are still drinking, and droa caw says, now, you know your fellow's going to lose, and you know they are going to bring in new people, and you're going to be out of power. he said, brokaw, you watch. he knew -- he knew his fellow was not going to win, and he knew he was going to stay in power no matter who was in the white house.
[laughter] >> he had his way around with the presidents. >> yes, bob did get his way. >> involved in italy for the pees of the middle east? >> so he was ambassador the middle east peace negotiations for a very short time. several months in 1979. because of the tension he was creating within the department of state and they decided to bring him back and run the campaign, and they thought he would be better served as chairman of the campaign. >> i wonder why now when he was going on now and in the prelim arena. do you know now his feeling, has he told you -- >> i can't speak for bob, and i don't know how he feels. i know he wishes it were more like it was 30 years ago when
people were partisan politics ended at cocktail hour and republicans and democrats had drinks together, and partisan politics ended at the water's edge putting on a public face for the rest of the world, america came together. >> can you talk a little about bob's relationship to george mcgovern and the 1972 convention? >> yes. ask me about george mcgovern in the convention, and i heard you are a mcgovernite? >> i am. this he didn't have anything against mcgovern and vice versa, and they thought the other one was perfectly nice fellows, but bob really thought mcgovern could not win the nomination, and most democrats outside of that -- of the camp did not think mcgovern could win the nomination, and he did
not -- after the 1972 convention, which bob went into as treasurer of the party, went into the convention paying for that convention, and he came out of it, you know, jobless. you know, mcgovern brought in all of his people, and, so, you know, flying back him, he said to hellen, well, you know, i'm going to work now to get my hands back on the party machinery, but he didn't do anything to hurt mcgovern's campaign, and i was surprised to learn -- given who strauss is and who mcgovern is, i didn't think they would be involved, but reading through the transscripts of the immediatings that westwood, mcgovern's chairwoman, bob actually helped them raise money, helped them get emergency computers. you know, he was not going to stand by and let the democratic nominee, you know, go without funds, but he really focused his
effort on fundraising for congress, and because it was a sweep for nixon, democrats did well in 1972 in congress. bob was very committed to that. i interviewed mcgovern by phone, and he said that, you know, bob, he thought that bob was probably a little upset after the convention and had every right to be because he was passed over and did the hard work that was unnoticed, and mcgovern made commitments, you know, to especially women's groups that he would appoint westwood, relatively unknown and not tested politically. she was the dnc representative from utah. he promised it to her. the old guard was out, and mcgovern was in. when strauss was chairman, they left before they were asked.
>> [inaudible] >> i heard rumors about the racist, but i don't know that that's true. i don't know if that's -- >> survey says no. >> bob have political ambitions of his own? >> bob would have liked to have been handed the presidency, i think. [laughter] he did not want to run for office. he really preferred being behind the scenes, and he said, you know, he said, you know, if he ran for the house, he said he would have to go around, eat barbecue with everybody in america, and, you know, kiss everybody's ass, but he was like, i like it when they kiss my ass. he wanted to be handing out the checks and not be on the receiving end.
[laughter] >> [inaudible] >> there was talk in the 80s about -- serious talk -- i mean, i was surprised, but the "new york times" was running squids about bob being our first jewish president, and he would always say, you know, that he's, you know, foolish enough to love the rumors, but smart enough not to pay any attention to him. >> i think he was the first jewish president of the methodist youth fellowship. [laughter] >> almost, almost. baptist young people's union. [laughter] are you from texas in -- >> yes. >> i can tell. [laughter] growing up in stanford, texas, a very small town, 3,000 people in west texas, he was born in 1919, and there were only two jewish families in the town, and that's because his cousins were also
living there. [laughter] really one jewish family in town. that means they were totally, socially integrate the, and they belonged to the clubs, and they ran the dry goods store in town. they were well-respected people. when i got the fbi file because bob was an fbi agent in world war ii, turns out that no one ever forgot they were jewish. when they interviewed the townspeople. fine, high type jewish folks. it was relevant, but not to bob as he was growing up. he didn't see anti-semitism, and as i said in the book, he thought the cutest girls were at the baptist young people's union. that's where he was. he wanted to get legislated president of the union, but the minister, i think it's minister, i'm jewish, so i don't know what i'm talking about, but the minister said he couldn't be. if not for that, he would have been elected president.
[laughter] sometimes he tells the story and says he was legislated president, and then they have to take it back because they explained that he was jewish. i think that among his peers, it was not that big of an issue that he was jewish. when he got to the university of texas, whose student body population was larger than the whole top he grew up in, it was an issue. he was only invited to pledge jewish fraternities, and it was a rude awakening for him. he did not know that that would be the case because he'd always enjoyed a certain popularity. he managed to, you know, be the one in his fraternity to represent the fraternity with the others. he really -- he got out of the what could have become a bubble for him at the university of texas, and he really was, you know, popular across campus and became member of the cowboys, which if you are from texas and know anything about ut, you know it's a popular group, the texas
cowboys. for a jew, he was pretty popular. [laughter] sorry. >> i have one question. anybody else have a question? nope. i'll go here. we were talking about this earlier. who out there even comes close today to being a bob? >> right. >> we'll end on that question. >> we decidedded no one. >> exactly. [laughter] so a lot change since bob's time. there's a lot more money in politics meaning people are going home on the weekends to campaign. there's not the same relationships there were in congress, and also the press can't protect politicians the way the press protected bob strauss. he could say the most outrageous things, and that didn't aft his career. having that larger than life
personty doesn't work in this climb climate, but then also being someone who does not buy into ideology or really just wants -- is practical and wants to negotiate and find a compromise, which is not popular today, either, people are having to listen to their districts a lot more, and i probably know less about this than everyone else in the room, but it's hard to have another because of climate and because he was a one of a kind character. >> thank you so much. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you very, very much. if you could fold up your chairs, we're greatly appreciative. she'll sign copies if you'd like them.
>> up next, paul beck, showing the important role ohio plays in american politics. >> ohio, since really the beginning, has been a battleground state. highly competitive, both parties strong in ohio. both parties able to win offices in ohio. they almost go back and forth in there was a party after the civil war where they went back and forth. every two years, there was a change of horses. it's a big state. a lot of electoral college votes which is important for the contest. more than a dozen states that are competitive, could be won by either side, and so you put together the big prize with the competitiveness, and it means the candidates are going to be here. governor romney had a bus tour a week or two ago. president obama had a bus tour just last week.
they will be back in ohio. we will see more campaign ads in ohio than people in most states will see to the point that people will be sick and tired of seeing them. columbus, the market we're in right now, had the highest degree of political advertising two weeks ago than any place in the country. it was june. it's really going to be a place that both candidates court. and almost always have. well, particularly, after the civil war, it was a place that harbored sympathizers and northern sympathizers. there's a bunch of counties south of us here in columbus that were counties called the virginia military district. after the revolutionary war, officers in the revolutionary army who didn't get paid were given land in ohio. ohio was part of the west, of course, at that time. they moved out here.
they sort of carried with them their culture and their background. they came from the a slave owning state. they didn't bring slaves with them into ohio, but they were sthettic -- sympathetic to the culture. it settled from west virginia, kentucky, tennessee, the states to the south of us, the appalachian states. again, there were southern sympathies there. there was a lot of activity in the civil war pro-confederate activity in ohio. the governor of ohio declared marshall law in ohio to reign in the confederate sympathies and sympathizers here. all of that adds up to a picture after the civil war where if politicians were going to be successful statewide in ohio, they had to appeal to both people with southern sympathies and people with northern sympathies. on the northern side, the grand
army of the republic, which was the union army, took many of the leading officers from ohio. when they mustered # out after the civil war, they came back to ohio and established the republican party. the grand army of the republic became, in many ways, the republican party organization. you had strong republican organizations, particularly in the northern part of ohio. you had people with southern sympathies in southern ohio. you, as a politician who wanted to run staid wide, thought, well, i have to try to appeal to both groups, and, of course, by appealing to both groups, you were also able to appeal to the whole country in a way which meant that people who were presidential candidates for many, many decades after the civil war came from ohio. we have a whole run of people who were presidents who were ohio yaps because they were able to compete in a state that had sympathizers on both sides of
what became the great divides in american politics between the north and the south. ulysses grant is the popular one. came back here, got into politics, was a very loyal republican, obviously, with election of a republican president. there were others. women henry harrison before the civil war was a soldier in ohio, actually born in virginia, but he did his soldiering here in ohio and ipse all three states claim him. he was successful, partly, because he was able to adapt to the midwest and appeal to people on both sides of the aisle politically. as you go into the 20th century, william howard taft, both supreme court chief justice and before that a president of the united states, came from cincinnati. cincinnati, in some ways, was a southern town because it was
oriented. its trade was with the south along the ohio river and the mississippi. it was the home of the underground railroad. if you could get slaves, the slaves could get out of kentucky and cross the ohio river, in some ways they were safe in ohio, and then they could be dispersed to other places to be even safer in ohio. taft was from here. harding was from marion, ohio, just north of columbus here. william mckinley, elected president, a bunch of ohioans. james garfield was from ohio. there's presidents who came to the area from the civil wars into the 1920s, and then it sort of stops. they pulled presidents from other parts of the country
afterwards that tend to be nor moderate for one thing. they don't tend to be ideologs. that's still true among major ohioan politicians. there's aendency to be more pragmatic and less ideological than those from the south. thee days, maybe from california or other states. if you are trying to compete in a general election, it helps to be able to appeal to voters who are swing voters in the middle and ohioans over the years, and, in fact, going back in time, they do that. ohio, generally, demographically, is sort of the average state. almost every demographic group you can think of is well-represented here. catholics, property protestants, ethnic groups. the only group not well-represented here is probably hispanics although there's a growing hispanic population.
there's some places in the state where there's a fairly significant concentration of the hispanics. they don't amount to much in the terms of the overall significance of the voting patterns and voting in elections. demographically, it's almost as if you want to test a consumer product, you'd test that in ohio. you got every demographic slice you want. of course, ohio also is a big city state. large rural areas with low populations, but most ohioans live in big cities in their suburbs. >> do you foresee ohio always being an important state in presidential elections? >> i think for the foreseeable future, yes. now, ohio is not growing as fast as other states which means our electoral college wait declines over time. we lost two congressional seats in the most recent reapportionment of congressional
seats, and that will probably continue to happen as there is more rapid growth elsewhere than in ohio. we're a stable population where the sun belt states are growing, although, the recession hurt them in terms of their growth. as long as we are significant in the electoral college and particularly as long as we're competitive, we will be a battleground state. candidates will be coming here. they will be saying i have to win ohio if i'm going to win the presidency. i think both of the candidates this year probably have to win ohio. they will go at it hammer and tongs in ohio, spend a lot of money here and be here a lot. >> for more information on booktv's recent visit to columbus, ohio, and other cities on c-span's local content vehicle tour, go to c-span.org/localcontent. in 1942, bill